Yesterday we took the Kitefoiler out to test it with a kite and three T-foils again. Additionally, we tested the newest hands-free radio prototype from Paul Larkin, who visited from InduComm to show us the system. The system fits inside one ear of a crew member and picks up voice through his or her jawbone, a setup which is meant to reduce wind noise. We taped the radios themselves to the outside of each person’s drysuit. There are one captain’s headset and several crew headsets. The radio has both push-to-talk and open-mic options. For our test, Paul wore the captain’s headset on the Protector, and Don, Joe, and Richard wore the crew headsets on the Kitefoiler. Paul attached a directional antenna to a pole on the Protector. We followed behind the Kitefoiler at various distances to test the range of the system. The system worked well at first, but was inconsistent. We could still hear wind noise, and Don’s mic was permanently muffled.
The test ended when the rudder T-foil failed. At first we thought that the Kitefoiler had hit something underwater, but upon further inspection it appears that the force of cavitation on one side of the foil could have been enough to wrench it.
Prior to the failure, Don, Joe, and Richard were able to get the boat to foil smoothly with all three of them aboard, in relatively light wind. Additionally, our launch and retrieval procedures with the mast have improved drastically. Don and Joe alone launched the kite on the first attempt and were able to retrieve the kite by flipping it upside down to winch it in and then flipping it again on the mast before deflating.
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